Since July, when David Collie was shot and paralyzed in a Fort Worth apartment complex, the police narrative went this way: An officer shot Collie after he threatened officers with a box cutter.
But Collie’s attorney released video from a police vehicle dashboard camera this week that he says backs up the paralyzed man’s assertions: That there was no blade in Collie’s hand, and that he was never a threat to officers.
The video is nearly 10 minutes long, but the encounter that left Collie paralyzed happens in the first 30 seconds.
A Fort Worth police officer and a Tarrant County Sheriff’s deputy came across Collie as they worked off-duty at an apartment complex, according to the Associated Press.
They suspected Collie had been involved in a nearby gas station robbery that ended when two shirtless black men sprinted away from the scene.
The law enforcement officers encountered a shirtless Collie a few minutes later at the apartment complex, which is a half-mile away from the gas station.
According to the video, he walked away from the approaching officers. They are seen getting out of their vehicle to engage him. One has a flashlight. The other unholsters a pistol.
At some point Collie points — his attorney says he’s pointing toward his girlfriend’s apartment, where he was headed — and the officer fires one shot.
Collie collapses in a heap.
Collie is now paralyzed from the abdomen down, his attorney said. The 33-year-old will likely require medical care for the rest of his life.
“His assertion is [he] was only trying to comply,” Nate Washington, Collie’s attorney, told The Washington Post. “These officers pulled up, they’re moving kind of quickly, one of them has a gun drawn.
“He told me ‘I was scared. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do.’ When I met him in the hospital, he told me, ‘Nate, I was trying to comply and they shot me in the back.’”
Collie was charged with aggravated assault on a public servant but a grand jury declined to indict him.
He wants to see the officer who shot him fired from the force and charged with a crime.
Fort Worth police did not respond to messages seeking comment about Collie’s case on Wednesday.
A police spokesman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that “until the internal case is closed, we are unable to release more details.” The case against the officer has not yet been presented to a grand jury, the spokesman said.
The police department is already reeling from a viral video this month that showed a white officer scolding a mom who had called 911 to report an assault on her son — then arresting the mother and her teenage daughters.
Texas officials and many in the public were outraged at the video, which shows the officer pointing his stun gun at the teenagers. Many called for the officer to be fired.
The Fort Worth Police Department didn’t release a statement directly addressing Collie’s shooting video or the other incident.
But the department posted a tweet shortly after Washington released the video:
“We saw what you saw. We heard what you heard. We have received your phone calls, your emails, your messages, your tweets, your reviews, your absolute concern over what occurred and your demand for answers and action,” the tweet says. “WE DO HEAR YOU!”
Collie’s shooting happened as police across the United States and the communities they serve are mired in a debate about whether officers are too quick to use deadly force against minorities. According to The Washington Post’s police shooting database, 951 people have been shot and killed by officers in 2016. Of those, 228 were black, nearly one out of every four.
Washington said he believes racial bias was at play in Collie’s case.
“It is the sort of racial bias and the sort of racial prejudice that says you should be afraid of the African American man,” Washington said. “You watch that video, you have an officer that sees Mr. Collie and within 10 seconds puts a bullet in his back.
“That doesn’t happen to other folks. That happens to African Americans.”